PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card Review: A 2% Cash Back Contender

PenFed Power Cash Rewards Visa Signature® Card Review: A 2% Cash Back Contender

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards is a good cashback credit card for existing customers or those with military service, but competing cards offer a higher welcome bonus and 2% cash back without any strings attached.

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Quick facts

  • Sign-up bonus: $100 bonus when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days of account opening
  • Rewards: Earn up to 2% cash back on all purchases for PenFed Honors Advantage Members, or 1.5% cash back on all purchases.
  • Intro APR: 0% promotional rate for 12 months on transfers made between now and September 30, 2021.
  • Regular APR: 14.99%-17.99% variable for purchase; 17.99% non-variable for balance transfers
  • Annual fee: $0

Pros

  • Unlimited cash back without registration or bonus categories
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Active duty and military vets earn the highest cash back rates
  • Can open a checking account to earn 2% cash back
  • PenFed membership includes exclusive discounts

Cons

  • Without checking account or military service, cash back is just 1.5%
  • No 0% introductory APR promotion on purchases
  • $100 welcome bonus is smaller than competing cards
  • Minimum spend requirement is higher than other cash back cards
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Is the PenFed Power Cash Rewards worth it?

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards is worth it for existing PenFed Honors Advantage members and anyone with military service, who can qualify for the card's highest cashback rate.

For everyone else, it’s just a run-of-the-mill cashback card, offering similar rewards to other cards like the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card and the American Express Cash Magnet® Card. On the bright side, you’ll enjoy low interest rates and fees, including no foreign transaction fees — but, otherwise, it doesn't offer much else that other cards don't already do.

Earn $100 cash back sign up bonus

New cardholders can earn $100 bonus when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days of account opening.

While this bonus is better than the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer — which has No bonus — it’s lower than many others.

Additionally, you have to spend up to three times as much as competing cards, like the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card, to earn the bonus. While most readers will have no problem meeting the $1,500 minimum spending requirement, it could be a challenge for others.

Earn up to 2% cash back

This credit card has two tiers of cash back earnings: 2% cash back on all purchases for PenFed Honors Advantage Members, or 1.5% cash back on all purchases.

Card applicants with U.S. military service receive 2% cash back for the life of their account based on their status at the time of application. Qualifying military service includes active duty, reserve and those who are honorably discharged or retired.

To earn the top cashback rate of 2%, you must qualify for PenFed Honors Advantage. To qualify for this program, you must have an active PenFed checking account or be a U.S. military service member. Card members receive unlimited 2% cash back on every purchase as long as their checking account remains open. If the checking account is closed for any reason, then your credit card rewards will drop to 1.5%.

How to redeem cash back

Once you've earned cash back with your PenFed Power Cash Rewards, you have three options to redeem your rewards:

  1. Statement credit. You can apply your cashback rewards directly to your credit card balance to reduce how much you owe.
  2. Direct Deposit to PenFed Credit Union Account. Customers who have a PenFed bank account can have the money deposited directly into their checking or "share" (savings) account.
  3. Transfer to another financial institution. If you don't bank with PenFed or want your rewards to go to a different account, you can schedule redemptions into your account at a different bank.

Your cash back won’t expire and there are no minimum redemption amounts when cashing in your rewards.

Other benefits

Aside from its cash rewards program, the PenFed Power Cash Rewards is light on other features. However, it does come with a couple other useful benefits:

New cardholders qualify for a 0% promotional rate for 12 months on transfers made between now and September 30, 2021. (Then a 17.99% non-variable APR applies.) While this isn't the longest balance transfer period to be found (for example, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer offers a much longer period), cardholders don't have to worry about being stuck with a sky-high APR after the introductory period ends — the regular APR is fairly reasonable.

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards is also a good option for traveling abroad, since it doesn't charge fees on transactions made in other countries.

How does the PenFed Power Cash Rewards compare to other cards?

While the PenFed Power Cash Rewards has a solid cashback program, there are other cashback credit cards that may be a better fit for your spending habits:

PenFed Power Cash Rewards vs. Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card

Verdict: Customizable cash rewards with a better 0% introductory offer

The Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card earns up to 3% on your purchases. The first $2,500 in combined spend in bonus categories will receive the extra cash back. Cardholders can earn 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), 1% cash back on all other purchases Plus, depending on your banking relationship, you can also receive as much as a 75% bonus on the cash back that you earn. This benefit is especially rewarding for customers with larger banking or investment balances.

Readers looking for a 0% intro APR on purchases or a longer introductory offer on balance transfers should take a look at this card. It offers an intro APR of 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases on purchases and 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days on balance transfers. (Then a 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR applies.) Balance transfers must be made within 60 days of opening your account and have a fee of Either $10 or 3% of the amount of each transaction, whichever is greater.. On the downside, however, the card does charge a 3% foreign transaction fee.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $0 (Same)
  • Welcome bonus: Receive a $200 online cash rewards bonus after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening (Better)
  • Cash back rewards: 3% cash back in the category of your choice, 2% cash back at grocery stores and wholesale clubs (for the first $2,500 in combined choice category/grocery store/wholesale club quarterly purchases), 1% cash back on all other purchases (Worse)
  • Other benefits: Earn up to 75% more cash back based on your banking relationship, 0% intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers (Better)

PenFed Power Cash Rewards vs. Chase Freedom Unlimited®

On Chase's Secure Website

Verdict: Better cashback rewards for most types of cardholders

The Chase Freedom Unlimited® lets you Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases. Its welcome bonus is higher than the PenFed card’s, while also requiring a smaller minimum spending requirement to earn that bonus.

New cardholders also receive a limited-time earnings boost on groceries and a better 0% APR offer: You get a 0% Intro APR on Purchases for 15 months on purchases (then a 14.99% - 24.74% Variable APR applies). While it does charge a foreign transaction fee of 3% of each transaction in U.S. dollars, the overall benefits of the Chase Freedom Unlimited® are better for most customers.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $0 (Same)
  • Welcome bonus: Earn a $200 Bonus after you spend $500 on purchases in your first 3 months from account opening. And earn 5% cash back on grocery store purchases (not including Target® or Walmart® purchases) on up to $12,000 spent in the first year. (Better)
  • Cash back rewards: Earn 5% on travel purchased through Chase Ultimate Rewards®, 3% on dining and drugstores, and 1.5% on all other purchases. (Better)
  • Other benefits: 0% intro APR offer on purchases and balance transfers, purchase and travel protections, complimentary DoorDash DashPass for three months, 5% cash back on Lyft rides through March 2022 (Better)

PenFed Power Cash Rewards vs. Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer

On Citibank's Secure Website

Verdict: A better cashback rewards card for regular PenFed members

Cardholders of the Citi® Double Cash Card Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. While the PenFed card also offers 2% cash back, customers must maintain a checking account or have served in the military to qualify.

Unfortunately, the Citi® Double Cash Card does not offer a welcome bonus to new customers — plus, it charges a 3% foreign transaction fee on international purchases. However, it offers the longest balance transfer APR of all the cards on this list: New cardholders get an intro APR of 0% for 18 months on Balance Transfers (then a 13.99% - 23.99% Variable APR applies). Balance transfers are subject to a fee There is an intro balance transfer fee of 3% of each transfer (minimum $5) completed within the first 4 months of account opening. A balance transfer fee of 5% of each transfer ($5 minimum) applies if completed after 4 months of account opening.

How does it compare?

  • Annual fee: $0 (Same)
  • Welcome bonus: No bonus (Worse)
  • Cash back rewards: Earn 2% on every purchase with unlimited 1% cash back when you buy, plus an additional 1% as you pay for those purchases. (Better)
  • Other benefits: Convert cash back into ThankYou Points (Better)

Should you apply for the PenFed Power Cash Rewards?

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards is worth it for people who plan on banking with PenFed. As a PenFed customer, you'll receive additional perks and discounts and qualify for the 2% cash back with your checking account. Military personnel can also benefit from the higher cash back earning power.

However, if you only plan on holding this credit card and don't plan to have a PenFed bank account, there are better cashback credit cards to consider, including the Chase Freedom Unlimited® and the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card. These cards offer a higher welcome bonus with a smaller minimum spending requirement to earn the bonus. In addition, they'll earn the same or better rewards on purchases without needing to open a checking account with PenFed.

PenFed Power Cash Rewards FAQs

How do I qualify to be a PenFed member?

While PenFed started in 1935 as a credit union for civilian employees of the war department, membership is now open to everyone. Simply complete your application by providing your name and contact information, then open your savings account with as little as $5.

How do I qualify for the 2% cashback rate?

In order to qualify for the 2% cashback rate with the PenFed Power Cash Rewards, you must be a PenFed Honors Advantage member. You can qualify for this status by having an active checking account or by having served in the U.S. military. Qualifying military members include those in active duty, the reserves, those with an honorable discharge and retirees.

Which PenFed credit card is best?

PenFed offers several credit credits to meet the needs of its customers. The "best" rewards credit card will depend on where you spend the most money. The PenFed Platinum Rewards VISA Signature® Card earns great rewards on groceries, while the PenFed Pathfinder Rewards American Express Card is best for travel. Customers who want to earn rewards on everyday purchases without remembering bonus categories should look at the PenFed Power Cash Rewards.

What percent cash back do you earn for gas?

The PenFed Power Cash Rewards earns 2% cash back on all purchases for PenFed Honors Advantage Members, or 1.5% cash back on all purchases. Other cards, like the Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card, earn a higher cashback percentage if you’re looking to maximize cash back on gas station purchases.

What discounts are available for PenFed members?

As a member of PenFed, you are entitled to exclusive discounts across auto, finances, home, personal and retail categories. These discounts include rental cars, home and auto insurance, wireless phone service, electronics and more. For a complete list and details on the latest offers, visit PenFed's member discount page.

What introductory offers does the PenFed Power Cash Rewards have?

When you open a PenFed Power Cash Rewards, you'll receive a $100 bonus when you spend $1,500 in the first 90 days. In addition, there's a 0% promotional rate for 12 months on transfers made between now and September 30, 2021. A 17.99% non-variable APR applies thereafter.

The information related to PenFed Power Cash Rewards, American Express Cash Magnet® Card and Bank of America® Customized Cash Rewards credit card has been independently collected by ValuePenguin and has not been reviewed or provided by the issuer of this card prior to publication. Terms apply to American Express credit card offers. See americanexpress.com for more information.

These responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

Advertiser Disclosure: The products that appear on this site may be from companies from which ValuePenguin receives compensation. This compensation may impact how and where products appear on this site (including, for example, the order in which they appear). ValuePenguin does not include all financial institutions or all products offered available in the marketplace.

How We Calculate Rewards: ValuePenguin calculates the value of rewards by estimating the dollar value of any points, miles or bonuses earned using the card less any associated annual fees. These estimates here are ValuePenguin's alone, not those of the card issuer, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the credit card issuer.

Example of how we calculate the rewards rates: When redeemed for travel through Ultimate Rewards, Chase Sapphire Preferred points are worth $0.0125 each. The card awards 2 points on travel and dining and 1 point on everything else. Therefore, we say the card has a 2.5% rewards rate on dining and travel (2 x $0.0125) and a 1.25% rewards rate on everything else (1 x $0.0125).